WEST LAFAYETTE — One month and six wins after getting blown out by Southern Methodist in Dallas, the Michigan basketball team went on the road against a ranked team again. This time it was No. 20 Purdue, but the result was similar. The Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten, 12-4 overall) were bullied down low and could not keep pace in the end with the Boilermakers (2-1, 14-2).
Despite a spirited effort without their senior leader, Caris LeVert, Michigan fell to Purdue, 87-70. Here’s our instant reaction from the game.
MVP: Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman. Without senior guard Caris LeVert, the Wolverines were looking for someone to step up in their upset bid. It wasn’t enough to steal a win in the end, but Abdur-Rahkman was more than up to the task. After scoring 14 points starting in LeVert’s spot against Penn State, the sophomore guard was at it again, leading the team with career-high 25 points on 16 shots and three rebounds.
On a night when Michigan could do next to nothing against one of the nation’s top defenses, Abdur-Rahkman at least made the Boilermakers sweat when he had the ball.
It was over when… Thanks to Abdur-Rahkman’s efforts, Michigan was hanging around, down just six with 5:08 to go. But through transition dunks, wide-open 3-pointers and sloppy defense by the Wolverines, Purdue went on an easy 12-0 run, putting the game well out of reach. A pick-and-roll dunk for AJ Hammons stretched the lead to 13 and a rare Hammons three pointer extended it to 16 with under four minutes to play, sending the fans to the exits. The Purdue big man finished with 17 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three assists in the win.
Key stat: Entering the game one of the best in the nation at avoiding turnovers, Michigan was outscored 16-4 in points off turnovers turnovers. The Wolverines held on to the ball for the most part, with only an 11.9% turnover rate, but gave up too many live ball fast breaks and failed to create turnovers against Purdue’s sometimes sloppy offense.
Room for improvement: It was almost inevitable that Michigan was going to struggle in the paint against the bigs-heavy Boilermakers and on offense without LeVert, but Michigan’s struggles were most evident when defending the perimeter. Though not a typical 3-point shooting team, Purdue found some success from beyond the arc, shooting an impressive 9-for-18 from 3-point range.